‘I hate you, like I love you’. Those words ring true for a lot of things in life, but perhaps none more so than for our relationship with reality TV. Despite all our proclamations of civility and class, an episode of Bigg Boss still draws our attention like few other things. But have you ever wondered why this happens? It’s not like we want to like it, but we do.
Apparently, one of the main psychological reasons we love to watch reality shows is empathy. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Jana Scrivani,
Reality television in particular gives us a false sense that we really know the people we see on the screen. This sense of having a personal relationship is amplified with the ‘reality’ label, even though we are aware that its greatly exaggerated. Close ties between family and friends are at all-time lows. Over time, we come to see the folks portrayed on the screen as friends. We identify with their struggles and triumphs. It’s much less time consuming to take in a half an hour television show than to connect with a friend.
According to Psychology Today, the less connected you feel to people in your life, the more you may seek the drama of reality shows.
However, this isn’t a definitive reason, and a lot of people can enjoy reality TV while also having fully actualised inter-personal relationships.
Another reason for enjoying reality TV was a self-aware method of vicariously living through experiences you yourself wouldn’t want. Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D., media psychiatrist and reality TV consultant said,
We live vicariously through the experiences of the reality TV stars, from the safety of our own homes. We don’t actually have to risk our heart or our reputation when we vicariously live through the experiences of the reality show participants.
Basically, it all comes down to us as humans liking stories, and enjoying a well-produced and far-out escape from the drudgery of real, everyday life. We as a species love drama, and we also want to forget about our own problems for a little while. Reality TV provides is a one-stop shop for both.